About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Mingling blues for bluebell shades

The other day someone asked me for my help as to how to mix blues for the bluebell wood project in my book Flowers in the Landscape.

The following is what I suggested, with some added illustrations to help clarify.

You are using the right colours.  The problem will be in the WAY you are mixing the colours.

So here are some very important tips...

Always start with a pale blue such as cobalt.  Mix a good amount of single cream consistency paint in a spacious palette. Then when you add another colour to this, such as a touch of permanent rose or Winsor violet,  DO NOT add it into the centre of the pool of paint but put it TO ONE SIDE and gradually mingle it in bit by bit.  When you have the shade you want, STOP mixing.

You have to be very gentle with your mingling.  Use the brush gently and always lay the colours side by side before mixing together gradually and gently.

Three colours laid side by side and gently mingled

So using this method try these combinations...to render the different shades of bluebells

Cobalt blue, add a touch of Winsor violet, then a touch of permanent rose.

Cobalt blue, add a touch of Winsor blue, then a touch of quinacridone magenta.

For a darker mix...

Winsor blue, add a touch of Winsor violet and perhaps a tiny touch of permanent rose.

You need to experiment on some scrap watercolour paper in order to get more confident with your mixes, but I cannot over emphasise the importance of gently adding touches of colour and being vigilant so that you stop mixing as soon as you get the right shade!

Some colour swatches on scrap watercolour paper

So much for mixing the colours.

The other important thing is to know how to lay the colours on your paper to keep them clean and bright.  
When I paint a bluebell wood subject, I like to start with an all over wash laid on wet paper.  I drop the colours in wet in wet and of course for a woodland scene that involves dropping in yellows and greens along with blues and that is where the difficulties can start.  Blue/violet/pink mixes laid upon yellow and green can end up as muddy grey!

Next time I will show how to lay the colours side by side in the first wash allowing them to combine without getting muddy.